Dr. Strangelove

Last week, I gave you a nice list of DVDs for younger kids. This week it's time to give a little love to the older kids in the family. Sure, they'll sneak a peek at the younger sibs' kiddie flicks when they think you aren't looking, but they really want to know that you know they're getting older, and they have their own taste in movies. Some of these recommendations are more current films that older kids might enjoy; others are well-loved classics you might remember from your own teen-hood. In any case, adding a couple of these selections to your shopping list for that tween or teen in your life is sure to make you tops on their list.
  1. High School Musical -- If you have a tween or teen daughter in your house, chances are fair-to-middling that you already know what High School Musical is. You've probably been subjected to repeated viewings of it, and had the catchy songs from the show stuck in your head at the most inappropriate moments (trust me, there are few things more likely to put a damper on a sexy mood than your partner hearing you hum "We're All In This Together" from the show during an intimate moment). Nonetheless, as my husband could tell you, having just survived a night at the High School Musical Live Tour with our 9-year-old daughter, this film, its songs, and its stars are like pre-teen crack. You have some hard decisions to make in your selection: Should you go with the Encore edition, or the two-disc remix edition? Should you up your coolness quotient by tossing in the High School Musical Karoake CD? That's a decision only you can make.
  2. Kubrick Madness -- The teen years are the best time for introducing your kids to the delicious genius of Stanley Kubrick, via some of his better films. If you're feeling like being a little spendy, you can snag the seven-disc Kubrick Collection for just under $200, but if Santa isn't feeling quite that generous, save some bucks and put together your own Kubrick Pack. My picks? Dr. Strangelove, natch -- one of the best films ever made. This one's a must for the older set. Extra points if you start overhearing your teen and his friends saying things like, "Let's get this thing on a hump -- we got some flyin' to do!" and "You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" Round out your Kubrick fix with my other fave Kubrick gem, A Clockwork Orange (goth teens will especially appreciate this one), and to round it out, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just because.
  3. Donnie Darko -- Donnie Darko is a great first pic to choose to expose your teen to films outside the multiplex. This film came out when my oldest was 16, and she and her friends latched onto it immediately. A trippy teenager with an invisible friend -- a rabbit who tells him to commit crimes? As an added bonus, it also has Patrick Swazyze, so you can totally gross your teen out with tales of how hot Swayze's ass was in Dirty Dancing, and how you and your friends used to watch it over and over again just to see him getting nasty with Jennifer Grey on the dance floor. For added fun, you and your spouse can mortify your teen by demonstrating aforesaid dirty dancing while singing "I Had the Time of My Life" at the top of your lungs. Teens love that.
  4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- Another great quotable film, and not just for the teen set. Nine-to-eleven-year-olds (at least, if my daughter and her friend are any indication) find this movie absolutely hysterical. Any Monty Python will do, really (my 4th grade Girl Scouts love doing "silly walks"), but if you have to choose just one, this would be my pick. One note of caution: Don't expose your teens to too many British flicks at once, or they'll start to get the idea that it's super-cool to walk around talking in fake British accents. Teens today didn't invent this game -- my friends and I used to speak with all kinds of fake accents when we'd hang at the mall (my personal specialty was pretending to be a Polish exchange student, which, since I'm half-Polish, I felt I could almost pull off, especially in Oklahoma, where the likelihood of anyone actually knowing Polish was pretty slim) -- but trust me, it sounds so much more annoying when you're pushing 40 and you hear teens doing flitting around doing wretched Brit accents.
  5. Rocky Horror Picture Show -- Okay, maybe you're not the type of parent who wants to necessarily encourage your teen son or daughter to want to run around a movie theater wearing lingerie and yelling at a movie screen. Chances are, though, if they're inclined to be drawn to weird stuff like RHPS, they're likely already going there anyhow when you think they're at a "church lock-in" (yeah, I used that one a few times -- but it's okay, I always confessed and did my Hail Marys afterward). This film is definitely not for the younger set, but older teens -- especially if you have one of those artsy intellectual teens who reads Nietzsche and glowers a lot -- will love it. With some teens, though, you have to watch out for your inherent parental uncoolness causing them to reject it outright as "lame." Save this one for when they're 16 or 17, and when they unwrap it, sharply say, "Who gave you that? I'm not sure I think that's appropriate ... " Your adolescent son will be singing "Sweet Transvestite" in the bathroom mirror while using a bath towel as a boa before you can say Magenta.
  6. Rebel Without a Cause -- The classic rebellious teen flick that set the gold standard for all future rebellious teen flicks. Teenage sons will appreciate James Dean's coolness factor, while the girls will swoon over his inherent bad-boy good looks. It's not as flashy as the crap they're used to seeing at the multiplex, but it's one of the best stories ever written for film. Every time I see this film, I'm blown away by how relevant it still is today, more than 50 years after it was written. You could also dig a little deeper and get the James Dean Collection for a little more moolah.
  7. Brick-- This film-noir-meets-high-school flick was one of the sharpest films to come out in 2006. Tight, cleverly crafted dialogue, surprising moments, stellar performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and an interesting, fast-paced story make this DVD an excellent choice for older teens. And hey, if you're into proselytizing, you can use the film as an excellent launching pad for a serious discussion on the dangers of hanging out with drug kingpins who still live with their mom.